District of Columbia Home Rule Act
Approved December 24, 1973
Amended through November 19, 1997
Originally published on-line in February of 1999
Click here to view a PDF as amended to 2008
GOVERNORS PLEDGE AID IN FIGHT FOR D.C. VOTES – The Washington Times, March 5, 1919
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The governors of twenty-eight States and the mayors of virtually every large city in the country today are preparing to carry Washington’s fight for votes throughout the nation.
These State and city executives here in reconstruction conference, have heard Washington’s appeal, and have been enlisted in the national campaign to win the right of suffrage for the people of the National Capital.
No poll has been taken yet to ascertain officially the views of each and every governor or mayor, but a meeting last night indicated that Washington can expect unanimous support by these governors and mayors in the suffrage campaign.
“The friendship of the governors and mayors will do much influencing Congress to give suffrage to the District,” said Col. Robert N. Harper, president of the Chamber of Commerce, today. “With the support of these men, Washington may feel confident of a tendency on the part of the next Congress to grant suffrage to the District.”
The justice of the District’s appeal for suffrage was explained at a dinner in the New Washington Hotel last night in honor of the governors and mayors. The Washington Chamber of Commerce was host.
Every argument brought out by the speakers in favor of granting a franchise for the people of the National Capital was eagerly absorbed by the conferees.
Many of the governors and mayors made notes of the points scored by Colonel Harper, Henry B. F. Macfarland, Commissioner Brownlow, and other speakers for suffrage, and it was evident that they were storing up knowledge concerning Washington’s voteless condition for future use.
“We find sentiment in support of the District suffrage plea almost unanimous among the governors and mayors attending the conference,” said Colonel Harper today.
“Many of the men were at first almost unable to believe when they were told that Washington is the only capital in the world without representation in the National Government.
“But they have been told of the existing conditions, and District residents may feel sure that these governors and mayors will go to their States and their cities and spread the cry of Washington for ‘Suffrage.'”
Henry B. F. Macfarland struck a responsive note in the minds of his listeners last night when he said:
“No wonder the visiting Britisher laughs up his sleeve when we tell him we fought in the Revolution mainly because King George III tried to tax us without allowing us representation in Parliament– ‘taxation without representation is tyranny’ we cry; and then the Britisher smiles because he knows that Washington, the greatest capital of the greatest democracy in the world, the people are taxed without being represented.
“And the Englishman probably whispers to his countrymen, Is the United States living up to the principles of Americanism when 400,000 citizen– no, not citizens, inhabitants– of the National Capital of the United States, are deprived of the right to vote!”
“What is your answer going to be Mr. Governor and Mr. Mayor? — you Americans. Is it going to be taxation without representation for the people of your National Capital?”
There was silence for a moment: then a storm of applause swept through the room.
“No!” came the response.
Mr. Macfarland also urged the audience to discourage any movement to remove the present half-and-half fiscal system from the District.
“The present system should be retained unless some plan better than that followed out since 1878 be evolved,” said Mr. Macfarland.
Colonel Harper told the governors and mayors during the meeting that it was not the intention of the people of Washington to appeal now for local self-government.
“Washington now wants only representation in the Electoral College and in Congress,” said Colonel Harper. “There has been some objection to the suffrage movement in Washington on the grounds that self-government in the District would result in misunderstandings between Federal and municipal governments; but we do not wish to urge, at the present time, more than District representation in Congress, the Senate and in the Electoral College.
“Representation in the affairs of the Government is the birthright of all American citizens. Why should the residents of the National Capital be deprived of a right which is given to Alaska, the Philippines, and the Hawaiian Islands? There is no just reason!”
“We obey the laws passed by Congress; we pay taxes; and we respond with nothing but love of country in our hearts when asked to give of the life of our home on the battlefields,” said Commissioner Louis F. Brownlow. “We do all this because we are proud of being Americans. And since we are Americans why should we not have our constitutional rights?”
“In righting this obvious wrong we need the help of the American people; in the fight for a franchise we cannot help, but have the sympathy of every Congressman, every Senator, every voter in the country- for they are Americans and they do not wish to begrudge to others the rights which they themselves possess.
“There has been some criticism throughout the nation of the congested conditions in Washington during the war 1/8 but the National Capital handled the situation as best it could. In the space of twelve months, 90,000 persons came to Washington from all sections of the country.
“It was difficult to care for all these people, but the District responded to the emergency in a way, which I know, ultimately caused universal satisfaction throughout the nation.
“Conditions in Washington are not quite as congested as before the signing of the armistice, but the need of further building in the District is still apparent. Of the 90,000 war workers who came here in the space of twelve months, but 4,100 have gone home since the armistice was signed.
“I have hear that all the war workers want to stay in Washington; so it is evident that living conditions in the National Capital are not as bad as you may have sometimes heard.
“About 17,000 District men have served or are serving in the army, navy, or marine corps during the present emergency. Of these 3,500 have returned and all have them have received back their jobs.”
D.C. VOTE CAMPAIGN BEARS QUICK FRUIT – The Washington Times, March 4, 1919
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The effectiveness of the “letterhead campaign” for votes for Washington was shown today when it was announced that more than 150 replies, asking what the writers could do to help the people of the District of Columbia to become citizens, have been received by Dr. George T. Sharp secretary and treasurer of the Eastern Viavi Company, with offices in the Colorado Building.
Dr. Sharp said he had told most of the volunteers to get after their county papers and to request their customers and friends to bring pressure on representatives in Washington.
The Cosmos Theater is using an entire page of its program for the “Votes for Washington” propaganda.
The Jacksonville, Fla., Times-Union, in a recent edition, declared that after the suffrage amendment is adopted the people of Washington should be given the vote.
Full page advertisements addressing the conference of governors and mayors appeared in all local papers today.
GOVERNORS TO AID D.C. VOTE FIGHT – The Washington Times, March 4, 1919
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Sentiment among the 100 governors and mayors of States and cities throughout the United States, now in conference in Washington was today expressed as being solidly in favor of the District’s appeal for suffrage.
Feeling is running high among the conferees, most of whom were not aware of the voteless condition of District residents until they came to Washington to attend the conference.
Action by the governors and mayors in passing resolutions favoring the District suffrage movement and in pledging themselves to urge their constituents to instruct their Congressmen to give the vote to Washington is expected before the termination of the conference tomorrow.
The attitude of the visitors, who came from nearly every State in the Union, was best expressed today by Lieut. Gov. George Stephan of Denver, Colorado.
“The sense of justice and the democratic principles upon which the American nation is founded all demand that the people of the National Capital be given the right to vote,” he said.
“There is no argument which can be used against the appeal of Washington for suffrage for its citizens. I could hardly believe my ears when I was told that the people of the National Capital of the greatest republic on earth were forbidden to vote.
“To think that the residents of the city of Washington, endeared in the hearts of American people for the past century and as the very heart of American democracy, should be deprived of the right of casting the ballot. It is beyond my understanding.
“Congress should take steps at the right the undemocratic conditions as regards the right to vote, existing in the National Capital.
“I can safely say that the West, where the love of country and of the principles of true democracy are of first concern, will be solidly behind the National Capital in its campaign to win the right to vote.”
“The North, East, and South, I can also safely say, in behalf of the men from those sections of the country attending the conference, will support Washington’s plea, by instructing their Congressmen to permit the vote in the National Capital.
“I predict that when a bill to give suffrage to the District comes up in Congress, the ‘ayes’ will make it unanimous; for Congress is representative of the democratic ideals of the American nation, and Congress will see to it that American principles prevail throughout the whole country.
“Washington should be given the right to vote, just as soon as it is possible to put a District suffrage bill through Congress.” said Daniel L. Keister, mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., and one of the conferees meeting at the White House today.
“‘Taxation without representation is tyranny,’ is as much of an Americanism today as it was in the time of Patrick Henry. It strikes me as rather peculiar that the National Capital, which has been justly idealized as the seat of American ideals, should be deprived of a constitutional right.
“Washington, I know, is glad to send her sons to defend the honor of the nation; Washington is glad to give her wealth to aid in upholding the strength of the nation, and Washington, I Know, rightfully resents having her citizens regarded as people without the ability to vote as American citizens.
“By all means, let the residents of the National Capital vote. When their campaign for suffrage comes up in Congress, they will surely find all of the strength and influence of the rest of the nation behind them in their please for their constitutional rights.”
Enrolled Text of the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010
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With Congress about to finish up their 30 legislative day review of the District’s medical cannabis law, I decided to post the updated text of the law. I had previously posted an earlier draft of the law and I feel its important to have the most up-to-date version for others to use a resource.
IN THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
To amend the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 to define key terms, to clarify who is permitted to cultivate, possess, dispense, or use medical marijuana, to require a written recommendation from one’s physician, to restrict the use of medical marijuana, to protect physicians from sanctions for recommending medical marijuana, to establish a medical marijuana program, to establish requirements for dispensaries and cultivation centers, to authorize the Board of Medicine to audit physician recommendations and to discipline physicians who act outside of the law, to set out penalties for violating this act, to prohibit the public use of medical marijuana, to establish a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee, to require fees collected to be applied toward administering this act, to establish liability provisions, to clarify that this act does not require any public or private insurance to cover medical marijuana, and to authorize the Mayor to issue rules; and to amend the District of Columbia Health Occupations Revision Act of 1985, the Health Clarifications Act of 2001, the District of Columbia Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1981, and the Drug Paraphernalia Act of 1982 to make conforming amendments.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Amendment Act of 2010”.
Tax Fairness for D.C. – The New York Times, October 30th, 1993
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The New York Times, October 30th, 1993
With a population of nearly 600,000, the District of Columbia has more people than Vermont, Wyoming or Alaska. Yet its Mayor and City Council have limited power. And the District is denied a voting representative in the same Congress that rules on its affairs.
The colonial character of this arrangement was underscored this week when Congress voted on the Washington D.C. budget, and grandstanding politicians from other places tried to deny its citizens the right to spend their own money as they see fit.
The District’s budget totaled $3.7 billion. The $3 billion came from District citizens in taxes; all but a tiny fraction of the rest is what the Federal Government pays for occupying 41 percent of the District’s land, on which it pays no taxes. The Federal payment is a miserly sum, given that the Government presence costs the District $2 billion a year in lost tax revenues.
Still, many in government see the District as a pawn in a political game. George Bush once vetoed the city budget, forcing the District to ban the use of even locally raised tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. C-Span’s broadcast of the District’s budget vote showed the latest act in this political amateur hour.
Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, seemed not to have read the budget bill but that didn’t deter him. He questioned the salaries of the District’s City Council members, and condemned District voters who chose to return the former Mayor to office as a Councilman. He picked out random lines in the budget and asked the sponsors to explain them. This nitpicking came at the end of a tortuous 18-month process that the District suffers to get its budget.
Congress as usual? Perhaps. But imagine yourself a citizen of the District, with no voting representative in Congress, watching as Congressmen questioned not just the vote you had cast in your city, but your entitlement to tax dollars that you had paid to local government for local use. How angry would you be?
Mr. Burton rationalized his antics by contending that Federal tax dollars were at stake. But the bulk of the budget is D.C. tax money. The Federal payment that makes up the rest is rent, and skimpy rent at that. Congress oversteps in trying to control how its bargain-basement rent is spent. Mr. Burton was performing for the people back home. But what people in Indiana need to see is that their Congressman is trampling on the rights of citizens just like them, all for a little time on camera. No wonder Congress was besieged by District demonstrators agitating for statehood.
It’s hypocrisy that America champions democracy abroad while refusing fair political treatment to the citizens of its own capital.
[FOUND MAP] New York City: The 51st State
|| 12/24/2008 || 6:34 pm || Comments Off on [FOUND MAP] New York City: The 51st State || ||
I have rallied for years about having DC become the 51st state in America. Even last week I redesigned the American flag to address my feelings toward this subject. However today I came across this map above that mentions the 51st state and predates the organization of the DC Statehood Movement.
In 1969 author Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City and one aspect of his campaign was New York City secession through urban statehood. This lovely map shows all the neighborhoods in each of the boroughs and subtly pokes fun at the current “state” of New York City.
I can’t help but wonder, what if this political option was pursued again? Would New York City residents be interested in having federal funds being directed to the city instead of the rest of the state? Political climate aside, would Americans be more receptive if DC statehood was concurrently offered so that the number states is not an odd number? Or is America just stuck at 50 because its a nice number?
When president-elect Barack Obama assumes office, he’ll be the first black president to live in the same federal district that has a majority black population who can never duplicate the steps in his American Dream. His path to presidency included a path no resident of the nation’s capital can follow- he was a United States senator. Without two senators like every other state, the residents of the nation’s capital, unlike the residents of New York City, are still second-class citizens denied the same equality every other American enjoys. Will Obama be a real leader and address this fundamental flaw in our government?
While the map above proposes the concept of urban statehood, there is also the notion of urban / island balancing worth mentioning. The boroughs themselves are drawn as distinct counties and in some respects their natural geographies create urban islands, like Manhattan & Staten, within the unified state of New York City. President-elect Barack Obama comes from a former island territory, now state, Hawaii, which was brought into the union at nearly the same time as Alaska for balancing purposes. Could urban statehood, like that of Washington, DC or New York City, be balanced with statehood for other American islands, like Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands? Or with the islands having a majority population of non-white people, like their urban counterparts, be a lurking reminder that racism still present in America? Should congressional representation be denied to American citizens simply based upon how their geography happens to be located or politically aligned? Sadly, I think thats what we have today and, to me, its veiled racism defended as normal partisan politics.